After a tough start to the year that saw Heather Jackson struggle to race at her normal level (she finished off the podium at Ironman Tulsa and then struggled with cramps at Ironman Lake Placid), she showed that she is very much still a factor in Ironman racing thanks to a huge win at Ironman Florida today. Pushed through much of the first half of the marathon by countrywoman Skye Moench, Jackson surged away and ran her way to the win.
The day began with an extremely tough swim in the Gulf of Mexico that saw only one woman go under an hour for the 3.8 km opening leg of the race. That woman was former collegiate swimmer Rachel Zilinskas, who was first into T1 with a lead of 1:11 on World Triathlon Long Distance World Championship winner Sarissa de Vries and 2:19 up on 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championship bronze medalist Imogen Simmonds. Skye Moench, who we featured on the cover of our July issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada, was 7:52 behind hitting T1, with Jackson 10:41 back starting the bike.
Out on the bike course de Vries quickly moved to the front and would stay there through the rest of the ride, hitting T2 with a lead of 2:16 on Simmonds, with American Jocelyn McCauley 5:48 back, Jackson 6:32 behind and Moench another four seconds behind.
Hanging on through the run
De Vries would hang on to her lead through 8 km of the run, but would fade badly once Simmonds moved into the lead and eventually pull out of the race. Behind them Jackson and Moench were pushing each other before Jackson finally pulled clear and made her move for the lead. She would move ahead of Simmonds, who would then start to fade, too. At one point the Swiss star would sit on the side of the road, and have to watch Moench move into second before she regrouped and got back out on the run course.
There was no stopping Jackson, though, as she cruised through the rest of the marathon for an impressive win, breaking the three-hour mark (2:59:28) to take the win in 8:52:57. Moench would hang tough for second in 8:56:36, while Germany’s Laura Zimmerman would run her way to third in 9:08:01. McCauley, who was competing today with a broken hand, took fourth in 9:10:01.
You can find full results here.